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Full text of "Journeys In Persia And Kurdistan ( Vol.Ii)."

240                      JOURNEYS IN PERSIA          LETTER xxvii

taxes, demanding labour without wages, and carrying off
Christian girls for their Jiarams. The laws which affect
Christians specially and injuriously areó

1.  That the evidence of a Christian is not received
against a Mussulman.

2.  That if any member of a Christian family becomes
a Moslem, he or she becomes entitled to claim the whole
property of the " house/' which as often as not consists
of two or three families.    The apostatising member of a
household is usually a girl, who either falls in love with
or is carried off by a young Mohammedan, who declares
truly or falsely that she  has embraced his  creed.    A
good governor is careful in these matters, and in some
cases gives the girl only her share of the family property,
but a bad governor may at any time carry out the law,
or use it as a means for extorting ruinous bribes.1

Every Christian man above the age of sixteen pays a
poll tax of 3s. annually for exemption from military
service, but from this impost the headman of a village,
who is at once its tax-gatherer and its spokesman, is

1 Dr. Labaree, whose experience stretches back for thirty years, writes
of the races under Persian rule in the Province of Azerbijan in the
following terms : "The Nestorians and Armenians of Persia in common
with their Mohammedan neighbours suffer from the evil forms of society
and government which have been bequeathed to them from the earliest
dawnings of history. Landlordism in its worst forms bears sway. The
poor rayed or tenant must pay his landlord one-half or two-thirds of all
the produce of his farm. Aside from his poll tax he must pay a tax on
his house, his hayfields, and his fruit trees, and on all his stock with the
exception of the oxen with which he tills the soil. But this is not all.
He is virtually at the mercy of his Agha, which translated literally means
master, a word which most correctly describes the relation of the landlord
to his peasants. By law he may require from each of his rayats three
days of labour without pay. In reality he makes them work for him as
much as he sees fit. He helps himself to what he pleases whenever he
makes them a visit. He sells them grain and flour above,the market price.
He ties them up and beats them for slight offences. And to all this and
much else must the poor peasant submit for fear of worse persecutions
if he complains. In these respects Moslem, Christian, and Jew suffer alike."